However, the reason many B2B companies turn to external sales firms is the lack of in-house resources in what has become a very, very technical space.
Only a few years back a sales consultancy might work on classic lead lists with cold call outreach and maybe a nurturing semi structured approach involving trade shows and round tables events combined with some content creation.
But due to the rise of Account Based Marketing (ABM), social media, marketing automation platforms and seriously advanced data analytics those days are truly over in many sectors particularly big ticket and tech categories when usually the prospective client gets the tech from day one.
So if you are considering collaborating with external digital marketing agencies, here are 11 of the most important questions you need to ask any prospective B2B digital marketing agency.
1. What is your industry experience?
Experience. The old classic is still relevant and for the obvious reasons that an industry specialist is more likely to know the nuances of your category and prospect behaviour and motivations. This is why B2B sales agencies tend to specialise in inter connected verticals (you can’t blame them for trying out a bit of BD outside their core category…)
We advise not go with a generalist no matter how good their reputation or even if the individual clearly has an understanding as that may not resonant across the whole team
2. Are they an expert in channel?
Most B2B digital marketing agencies have a set of core technical or methodology expertise also known as a sales process or flow which may or may not be appropriate for your category.
Some industries favour SEO some work via round tables, handshakes and old fashioned charm and value. We’re not judging. But just don’t so full social in terms of execution when the chairman and decision maker at that insurance policy company still likes a written letter (that’s actually a real world 2018 example)
Go with marketing agencies who focus on interconnected activities that they specialise in and work in your category.
3. What is you client slate and what have you done for them?
This is a no brainer. A company that can pick up clients can win deals. They’ve got something. It might be just that they are good on building their own business which is a correlates but is not a causation of being a good B2B sales or marketing agency but it’s a positive signal. Its at this point that you can find out if they have any new inspiring techniques, a creative execution or a well thought through sales methodology and efficient work flow
4. Explain to me my prospects life cycle?
Your new B2B digital marketing agency should understand the profiles of your prospects at each stage of the funnel and their buying journey. It’s not for you to explain and educate them unless you operate in a very opaque or obscure category. They should be able to get 80% of it right without you hand holding them. Don’t expect 100% match because we all view things slightly differently and use different terminology but if they are pretty much there then they get a pass to the next stage. If they play the how understanding your needs and client profile hand without offering any insight or expertise then run to the hills, this individual or agency may be good at their own business development but will never excel your expectations.
5. How will you measure success?
Get into the numbers and definitions straight away. The key performance indicators can be soft as hell just get them defined and agreed so deliverables and remuneration are clearly defined from the get go.
It’s absolutely fair to ring fence certain prospects as in play and you absolutely must define when that click through sponsored post is still relevant. Dropping a cookie on someone with a relevant piece of content fired into the client via a facebook campaign is all good, but not when it’s a year old.
6. What is your sales methodology?
Everyone’s good has got one. They all pretend they haven’t down the pub that it’s just charm and being just great. But that’s not the full truth. A good b2b digital marketing agency will have a repeatable and scalable sales work flow and pipeline process which evolves based on results. It will usually involve both soft and hard approaches and if there is a nurturing part to it all which is efficiently created and executed with quality content you’re dealing with a class operation. If they are just knocking down doors art scale and playing a numbers game you’re missing a lot of ops.
Image credit – Glengarry Glen Ross (Great film!)